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Hipster Record Reviews with Jake McGraw

Poo Dreads
Dingleberries

Dingleberries finds Richibucto, New Brunswick's Poo Dreads abandoning the macho posturing of their 2001 indie smash Sissy Little Girl Farts, in favor of a studied, wistful melancholy. Drawing heavily on the band's post-bluegrass influences, Dingleberries also owes a debt to circa-1996 Ohio psychedelia; imagine Monk Tickler meeting up with Raccoon Farm Police at a ketamine party.

Frontman Elmer LeTrey, recently back from his second sex-change reversal operation, lets go of the plaintive uncertainty that dominated Sissy, transmuting it instead into bemused indecisiveness. On songs like "Are We Recording?", LeTrey seems to finally be coming to terms with his vulnerability, quietly asking: Are we recording? / Are we recording yet Jeff? / How do you turn this thing up?

Other standout songs include the pseudo-Celtic dirge of "Terrific Bus", "Moot Court", and the untitled track 7, an experimental wall of soaring pan-pipes and de-tuned ukulele fuzz peppered with the wrenching cries of slaughtered sheep. LeTrey wisely stands aside as multi-instrumentalist Bert 'Andy' Smooch comes into his own in the latter half of the disc, sensitively evoking his hardscrabble Port Perry adolescence on "Quail Tennis" with syncopated washboard rhythms pinned down by brassy tuba blasts.

Poo Dreads are joined on Dingleberries by an all-star cast of guest musicians that will surely delight the band's diehard fans. Carl Wreszeczki lends a hip-hop vibe to "Racism Tastes Like Chicken," while Angolan wildebeest-caller Florence Kimbundu picks up a banjo to lead the Dreads through a raucous 23-minute live cover of "Freebird", recorded last year at Chad's Gas n' Go outside Medicine Hat.

Rodney Spitz
Freak Acid Baseball Pants

Spitz is better known to techno trainspotters as DJ Stoat Fancier; to junglists and hip-hop heads by his moniker Carb Uncle; and to Windsor-area five-year-olds as Roddy the Birthday Clown. Prolific in the extreme, his 1995 white-label 12-inch "Blurg" is credited with defining an entire genre of electronic music, one which includes only that particular release. "Blurg was a pretty fresh, up-front style in '95, probably during the second or third week of June," Spitz recounted in a recent phone interview from the holistic healing and retreat center he co-owns with his parents just outside St. Catharines. "A lot of the kids were into it, but then it went all commercial, and by Wednesday or Thursday of the following week it was finished. No one would touch it."

The liner notes to the superstar club DJ's new double album chronicle his long battle with addiction to 2-CB, DiPT, ibogaine, Aleph 7, gas huffing, catnip, pavement bubblegum, and bits of dryer lint. "Strangely enough, the lint was the hardest one to kick. I mean, I just did it on a lark; who knew what a wicked strong buzz that stuff could give you?"

How did it impact the music? "Let me put it this way. When I was working on [1996's] 'Direct Drive Wormhole / Magic Penguin Socks for Chris', I came up with this great sound effect on my Amiga, kind of a low-frequency buzzing-throbbing drone. I remember thinking that it would really flesh out the bottom end of one of the tracks. Later, after I came off my bender, I was surprised to learn that it was the track. In fact, all the tracks I'd laid down for the album consisted basically, I mean entirely, of that one effect. It was a hit, though. We threw in some 808 beats and a high-pitched warbling sound on the remix and that did pretty well too."

But that's all in the past, and Baseball Pants is a mature, contemplative release from an artist who has gazed deep into the abyss, stumbled around the edge a bit, realized he was high on some kind of Peruvian cactus extract, vomited all over himself, passed out, and lived to tell pointless, rambling stories about it to anyone who'll listen. Let's not lie to ourselves here, most techno is monotonous shite for artless poseurs, this is no exception, and I'd rather be a theatre critic. I offer this as my formal resignation to Hammer editor Buford McGraw, as if he even bothers to read the facile, nose-picking bork they've been running lately.

TESTICLES boozebarn TESTICLES
TestICLES bOOzEbArn TestICLES

The (mostly) self-titled debut EP from TESTICLES boozebarn TESTICLES has some kind of a little diacritic or accent over the last E in the second (and fourth) "TESTICLES", which is apparently there to tell us to pronounce it such that it rhymes with "Sophocles." The tree-track miniature CD has one song that my player informed me was negative three minutes long and hence unplayable, 75 minutes of staticky silence, and 60 seconds of a mad Belgian farmer screaming at the listener to shut up in Flemish. I do not know what criteria one would use to review it.

I tried to access the disc's "multimedia features" on my PC and it gave me some kind of virus that periodically sends bizarre, offensive and cleverly personalized e-mail spam to everyone in my address book. I have yet to figure out how to remove it and will probably have to reformat my hard drive. If TESTICLES boozebarn TESTICLES is some kind of joke, then it is not very funny.

And another thing. That part I wrote earlier about the Poo Dreads' new album being wistful and melancholy is horseshit. I could make a better record with a garage-sale Casio keyboard, wooden spoons and a toy xylophone, with or without my dog backing me on the kazoo. Imagine two pathological assholes meeting up at a kegger in the woods outside Timmins. Forget LeTrey, the guy carries his balls around in a mason jar like those Chinese eunuchs in The Last Emperor. Multi-instrumentalist Andy Smooch? The guy is a drunk, arrogant cretin, but he's McGraw's cousin's boyfriend so I'm supposed to give his band a flattering review to help sell the 50 mix CDs he burned last week on his computer. Then he can cover his "drunk and disorderly" fine from the Medicine Hat show. They weren't even booked to perform! Smooch got wasted and took over the DJ booth because the owner wouldn't let him up on stage, then he played "Freebird" over and over for half an hour until the cops showed up. Sad fuck. McGraw too. Did I mention I quit?

Jake McGraw is an irregular contributor to TheHammer.ca, and will soon receive that 2 cent raise he's been bugging us about.

 

 

Posted on June 24th, 2005


 

 

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